Saturday, November 3, 2007

Other Fun Sentences

It occurs to me that you can have a lot of fun, not only with the "buffalo" sentence, but also with other similar forms. For example, "Mississippi misses miss misses Mississippi misses miss", which is sort of self evident. Also, "Robbers rob robbers robbers robbers rob rob". Longer sequences can be formed in the same way that long "buffalo" sentences are formed, by forming categories and then having one category miss, or rob, another category.

Have fun. Can you find other nouns and verbs that make long fun sentences?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Happy Birthday Dave

By the way: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO DAVID. This wish is only two days late, but heartfelt even so.

The "Buffalo" Sentence



Explanation of the “Buffalo” Sentence

The word “buffalo” can be used in three ways:

  1. Buffalo – the city in New York. Use the notation “B” to refer to this meaning.
  2. Buffalo – the animal (bison in America). Use the notation “b” for this meaning.
  3. Buffalo – the transitive verb, meaning to intimidate. Use “$” for this meaning.

The first two meanings can be used to form categories, or sets, of animals as follows (using the short form for brevity):

b – the set of all animals called buffalo.

Bb – the subset of those animals near the city of Buffalo, or Buffalo buffalo.

We can divide these two sets into further subsets of animals that are intimidated by either of the first two sets:

bb$; Bbb$; bBb$; and BbBb$ – bison intimidated by other bison; Buffalo bison intimidated by bison; bison intimidated by Buffalo bison; Buffalo bison intimidated by other Buffalo bison.

Each of these four sets will have two subsets, made of those bison, and Buffalo bison, intimidated by each of the above categories of bison:

b(bb$)$; Bb(bb$)$; b(Bbb$)$; Bb(Bbb$)$; b(bBb$)$; Bb(bBb$)$; b(BbBb$)$; Bb(BbBb$)$

I have added the parentheses to make the categories more clear.

Each of these sets will have two subsets, made of those bison, and Buffalo bison, intimidated by each of the categories of bison. Each new set is made by adding “b” or “Bb” to the front, and “$” to the end, as follows:

b(b(bb$)$)$; Bb(b(bb$)$)$; b(Bb(bb$)$)$; Bb(Bb(bb$)$)$; b(b(Bbb$)$)$; Bb(b(Bbb$)$)$; b(Bb(Bbb$)$)$; Bb(Bb(Bbb$)$)$; b(b(bBb$)$)$; Bb(b(bBb$)$)$; b(Bb(bBb$)$)$; Bb(Bb(bBb$)$)$; b(b(BbBb$)$)$; Bb(b(BbBb$)$)$; b(Bb(BbBb$)$)$; Bb(Bb(BbBb$)$)$

Each of these sets will have two subsets, made of those bison, and Buffalo bison, intimidated by each of the categories of bison, and so on. Each category must have at least one animal in it, so when you run out of buffalo, there is an end to the categories.

Sentences can be formed by having any category intimidate any other category, in the form:

C1 $ C2

Example: Let C1 = Bb and C2 = b. The sentence is represented by “Bb $ b”. Written out, it is “Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo”, or “Bison in the vicinity of Buffalo, N.Y. intimidate other buffalo.”

In addition, the city of Buffalo could be intimated by any category, as in “b $ B”, or “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo.”

A valid English sentence can be formed for any number, n, of “buffalo”. For n=1, the shortest sentence, it is the declaration, “Buffalo!”

As a verb, “buffalo” is transitive, requiring an object. But, if it were to be used (mis-used) as an intransitive verb, one could say “b$” or “Buffalo buffalo” meaning “Buffalo intimidate”, yielding a sentence for n=2. Although one could also say, “Buffalo buffalo!” (Bb) indicating a recognition that the buffalo in question were associated with the city, or “Buffalo, buffalo!” (bb) indicating continued amazement at the appearance of buffalo.

Buffalo, the city, is always capitalized, so within the sentence, all capitalized “Buffalo” refer to the city. The first word in the sentence is also capitalized, so it could refer to the animal or the city, but not the verb, because the verb requires that an object precede it.

Example: Take the two categories Bbb$ and bb$, and form the sentence:

(Bbb$) $ (bb$)

It translates as the perfectly valid English sentence:

Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo.

Or, to take a more extreme example:

(b(b(bb$)$)$) $ (b(Bb(BbBb$)$)$) translates as the sentence:

Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo.

But, care must be taken to get the capitalization right.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Storm Damage

A few weeks ago we noticed on the weather report that the West Virginia area where we live was under a tornado watch. But, since we were in Virginia at the time, we didn’t pay much attention except to make a mental note to check to see if the house was still there the next time we went to West Virginia.

Well, it must have been quite a storm. The big white oak tree next to the path to the “Never-Ending Village” broke off about 5 feet off the ground. We knew the tree was hollow – Dave and his friends cut off one large branch several years ago about 15 feet off the ground. Not only was the branch hollow, but we could see all the way down to the ground, or as least as far as our flashlights would penetrate.

When the oak fell, it took with it the juniper tree that was right next to it. The juniper was probably 30 feet tall and a good foot in diameter. We used it as a ladder to climb up into the oak tree. Also as it fell, the oak uprooted and toppled a medium sized hickory tree. The juniper was broken off about two feet off the ground, but the hickory just toppled, leaving a big hole where the roots used to be. The hickory tree is quite tall and very straight. I think I could get a very good log out of it, and might try to do so. If it is solid wood all the way through, it will be worth it to try to save a piece of it.

Farther down in the meadow, the juniper tree that is next to the wagon wheel path broke off about 15 feet up, so that the top third of the tree is now gone. It didn’t break off cleanly, but is held by a few splinters. I will have to find a way to get up there to cut it off cleanly.

In the north woods a very large black walnut tree broke off about 8 feet off the ground, and then broke again about 10 feet further up the trunk. Then it caught in other trees around it. It must have been nearly 100 feet tall, and probably two feet in diameter. None of it fell cleanly onto the ground, but it is all tangled up in other trees – it will be a difficult and dangerous job to get it down. But, it looks like there are at least two places where a 8-foot log could be salvaged from the tree, and many other smaller pieces could be harvested. Black walnut being such a beautiful wood, I want to salvage as much of it as I can. I think Carol is going to try to call some lumber mills and see if we can get a custom sawing of any logs I manage to salvage.

Down in the ravine, the top of one tree broke off, probably 80 feet up, and is hanging ominously over the road down into the ravine. I have no idea how to get it down or cut off cleanly. And down by the target range area there is a quite large chunk of another tree laying in the path. It is too large to move by hand, and it is blocking the ATV road there, making it hard to turn around. It will have to be sawn apart with the chain saw. The part that is laying on the ground is the top part of a tree that broke off cleanly about 80 feet up. The trees in the ravine have to grow straight up for about 100 feet in order to get light, so all the trees there are very tall and very straight.

Today I tackled the white oak. Last week I went around it with my trimming axe and cut away a lot of the smaller branches so I could see how the main trunk lay and what was holding it up. Even with that preliminary work, I made six piles of trimmings at various locations around the tree. Thinking about it during the week, I decided that I could cut away the main trunk beginning at the lower end where the diameter is probably three feet. But because it is hollow, there is only an annulus to cut through. So today I began. I cut off one very large branch of the oak, climbing up on the main trunk to get at it – I didn’t think the trunk would shift as I cut the branch away, and it didn’t, much. I also thought the trunk was resting on the juniper, but when I saw daylight all along the juniper trunk, I decided I could cut it through, so I did, getting a good 10 feet of juniper trunk out in one piece. Cutting the juniper filled the glade with the scent of cedar – what a wonderful smell!

Having cut the juniper away, I could now see that the oak trunk was resting on the hickory tree via a small remnant of one oak branch about 6 inches in diameter. I tried chipping away at that branch with my axe, but couldn’t get the trunk to move any. Then I went around and cut up the large branches that I had trimmed the week before. One of these was a branch that I thought might be holding the trunk up some, but I cut it away without the trunk moving any. Then I continued cutting off the main trunk from the bottom up to just below the short branch that rests on the hickory. Once I got to where the trunk was intact all the way around, I had to cut first from one side, and then go around and cut from the other side. At some point, the piece I was cutting off would split lengthwise, so the trunk would come off in arcs rather than as a complete cylinder. The actual living wood was only about 3 or 4 inches thick all the way around the trunk – the rest was hollow.

By this time I was drenched with sweat and could hardly hold my chain saw up any more. I knew I was reaching the end when I would pick up my saw, start it, make one cut, turn it off again and wearily place it back on the ground.

It’s going to be a lot more work to get that tree down and cut up. And, that’s just one of five that need work.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Cardinal Returns

After disappearing for a couple of weeks, the Cardinal has returned. Two weeks ago he discovered the Toyota after a couple of hours and spent the day admiring himself. Interestingly, he flew from the tree to the running board, then up to the window of the back seat, then to the front seat window, then to the top of the mirror (where he would bend over -- I guess to try to see himself upside down in the mirror) then back to the tree -- staying in each location just for a few seconds. Then he would fly off to the west forest, or off to the east forest, but he would be back again in just a few minutes. He did this all the time we were there.

I took some pictures of him through the screen door. Carol said she had gone out onto the steps and sat there to watch him, and she thought I could photograph him from there, but that didn't work for me AT ALL. As soon as I came through the door he took off and didn't come back even though I waited without moving for a VERY long time.

Last week when we arrived, I whistled his song (sort of) as soon as I got out of the car, and he showed up less than a minute later. His behavior remained the same -- from the tree to the running board, to the back door, to the front door, to the top of the mirror, and back to the tree. Sometimes he perched on the hood and looked in through the windshield. He seems to spend more time on the outside mirror than he did at first, and he is CLEARLY recognizing his mirror image as no threat. I think he knows it is himself.

Several times I stepped to the door and whistled his song through the screen, but each time he fled. Probably can't stand to hear his song butchered the way I do it. He likes to sing while perched on top of the outside mirror -- that seems to be the only location he sings from.

I'm glad to see him back.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Jewelry Tools

I never knew there were so many tools for jewelers to use! I took a beginner's course in jewelry making a few weeks ago and decided to try making some things at home, so I needed a few things ...

Anvils, hammers -- lots of hammers, pliers, files (big and little), tweezers, solder, flux, torch for soldering, a pan of pumice stones to hold my soldering pieces, a fireproof little square to do it all on, "third hands" to hold little parts in place, files, "pi
ckle" to clean off soldering residue from the parts, a used crock pot to heat the pickle, a pair of copper tongs to fish items out of the pickle with, jeweler's saw, saw blades, bench clamp to saw on, buffing wheels, buffing compounds, and on and on ...

I made two hammers into tools to pattern copper and silver sheets with. One is a random series of lines, and the other is a starburst pattern. I carved the patterns into the faces of the hammers with a little tiny cut-off wheel, using the flex-shaft machine (which I forgot to mention above), and then polishing the hammer faces. Used to pound patterns into sheet metal, they leave a surface pattern that catches and scatters light. The sheets have to be pounded on an anvil -- the bigger the better -- in order to put a clean pattern on the metal. This p
rocedure makes a lot of noise, so I can't do it after my wife has gone to bed.

Then I had to make some tool-holders so I could find things. I made two out of wood -- just holes drilled into the side of a 1x4, about 3 inches deep into which I could put things like tweezers, pliers, saw blades, and other small things. I wanted to make one out of copper tubing soldered to angle iron, so I bought some angle iron and cut a foot off one end with a hacksaw (although I could have used the jeweler's saw -- it cuts ANYTHING). Then I
cut some 1/2 inch copper tubing into four-inch pieces (getting two blisters in the process, one on my thumb and one on one finger). I spent two days thinking about how to hold all the parts for the soldering process, and finally came up with one I thought would work. Applying flux to all the parts, I began.

First try was an abject failure. By the time I got the metal parts hot enough to melt solder, the flux had been burnt to a solid black film. And, there was no adhesion between the copper and the iron, so it just fell apart. I cleaned everything up and tried agai

Attempt number two was no better. In fact it was somewhat worse. I had taken everything out onto the back patio because I thought it would be better to try this operation outside. That was a good idea, but unfortunately, it was the last one I had. Everything was rearranged outside. In particular, the hoses for the torch were rearranged, and when I pointed the torch at one end of the copper tubes, flame shot out the other end of the tube and melted holes in the hoses to the acetylene and oxygen bottles! I heard this tremendous hissing so
und and thought to myself, "That can't be a good thing". It took me a few moments to figure out where it was coming from. Well, I guess there isn't a more fundamental mistake for a beginner to make than to melt his own hoses. Best to get it out of the way right at the start. Now I can make more sophisticated mistakes.

That put me out of the soldering business until I could get new hoses, so I passed the time by downloading instructions on how to change hoses from the web. I discovered that I didn't actually need NEW hoses, I could just cut off the ones I ha
d. But the instructions cited the use of a "ferrule tool" -- whatever that was. I looked closely at the picture of the new hoses and saw what had to be the "ferrule tool" (because it couldn't possibly be anything else) and thought, "I can make that". I did, too. Out of aluminum. And it worked, at least to get the brass holders off the hoses at their connection to the torch. But when I tried to use it to get the brass holders back onto the new connections, the brass slid into the tool and jammed there. So, after un-jamming it, I made a new ferrule tool with a slightly smaller hole, which was perfect for putting the brass holders back on. Also, for the first time I used my very smallest hammer with the plastic face -- perfect for this job.

Back in soldering business, I gave it another try. This time I managed to get a copper tube soldered to the angle iron at one spot, but not along its length. It felt loose, so I pried it up, thinking I would just pry it off and start over. But instead of breaking at the solder joint, I managed to pry a piece right out of the side of the copper tube! Now I had a tube with a small hole in it.

"Well, no matter", I thought, "it won't matter if it has a small hole in it -- it won't been seen anyway." I cleaned everything off for one more try. I decided that I was using a torch that was too small, and I wasn't able to heat the whole area I wanted to sol
der, so I changed the torch tip to the biggest one I had.

My torch is called "The Little Torch" because it is quite small, and has very small nozzles in the tips. I have five tips, so I picked out the largest of the lot. Ready to go again, I was very careful to position all the parts in place, taking lots of time to get it right. This time things were looking much better. I was heating a much larger area this time, and it looked much better.

But then, about halfway through the process, when one piece of solder had melted and I was working on the second, I discovered that I was soldering the angle iron on upside down.

Obviously, I was out of my league.

Later that same day, however, I managed to make a jig for bending wire into the shape I wanted for making a pendant or earring. I made two of them, and when it came to the soldering part, everything went perfectly.

Maybe I'll try the iron and copper another day. After all, I have lots of short copper tubes around because I made them all (and got blisters!) before even started the soldering trials, and there is still quite a bit of angle iron left over. Or, I might epoxy them together -- I know how to do that.

But I hate to fail. On the other hand, I learned a lot. I especially learned to pay attention to my hoses. And, I learned how to changes hoses. That's something. It will have to do.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Cardinal

22 May 2007

We have been watching a cardinal here at the cabin. He is a very bright red and the very image of the Virginia state bird. And he is so full of himself! I first noticed him when I was looking through the bedroom window at the bird feeder in the Linden tree in the front yard. As bright red as he was, he all but forced the eye to focus on him. Then, later, I saw that he was fluttering up against the window of the Toyota. “What is he doing?”, I asked myself, so I stopped to watch him. Pretty soon it became evident that he had discovered that there was another male, also bright red, horning in on his territory, or so he thought, because he was looking into the side mirror of the car on the passenger side. He would perch on what little window sill there was, and from time to time would fly at the mirror, and then return to his precarious perch. When he got really excited, he would poop down the door.

When we went out to get in the car, he flew off into the woods. I checked the mirror, to find beak marks all over it, and what looked like a fine dust. I think that was from his flying into the mirror to attack his rival. He must have thought that his rival gave as good as he got when he hit the mirror! I had to wash the door off before we drove away.

When we came back, we parked in the same place, and before long, the cardinal returned and went through all the same motions as before: he perched on the window sill and observed himself in the mirror. His attacks were fewer, though, and his observing himself was more prevalent. But he continued to poop all over the door. He spent a long time there – several hours.

Then my wife went out with green plastic garbage sacks and duct tape and covered the window from the top to part way down the door, eliminating the window sill altogether, and covering the mirror and part of the windshield. This move was intensely frustrating for the cardinal. He tried to perch on the windowsill, but there wasn’t any, and he slid off down the door. He perched on the running board instead and surveyed the situation. Then he hopped back and forth on the running board, looking up at the window. Then he tried to fly up to the windowsill again. He seemed to try to hover in order to look into the mirror, before fluttering to where the windowsill should have been, only to slide off again. Then he flew over to the Linden tree and looked the situation over from there. Then he flew to the running board. He hopped back and forth, looking up at the now covered window and mirror. Then he tried to fly up to the windowsill, but there was no purchase there for him to perch. He kept this up for a long time. We left the plastic sacks taped to the car overnight until we left for home. I still had to wash off the running board!

The next week when we came out to the cabin, we parked in the back instead of out by the Linden tree. We saw the cardinal in the Linden tree, but for a whole day we didn’t see him out back where the car was. Then, the next day, he discovered where the car was! But instead of going to the passenger side, which would have been on the side away from us, he went to the driver’s side where we could see him. First he hopped up on the running board and looked around. Then he hopped from one end of the running board to the other and back again (leaving little evidences of his passage as he went). Finally he flew up to the window sill where he could see into the mirror. From time to time he would lose his footing on the window sill, it is so narrow, but he would just flutter his wings and get a better grip. Again, there was less attacking, and more admiring of himself in the mirror. Do you suppose he began to understand it was himself he was looking at? It sure seemed that way to me. He stayed there most of the day and only flew away when we went out to get into the car. Again, I had to wash the bird poo off the car before we left.

The next time we came to the cabin we drove my Honda, and we didn’t see the cardinal at all. We thought maybe because my car was black instead of gray, and a different shape, that he didn’t recognize it as the same kind of object.

This week we drove the Toyota again, and parked out by the Linden tree, but we haven’t seen him this week either. I keep thinking he has found a mate and is now so busy trying to feed his family that he has no time for admiring himself in the mirror. I sort of miss him – he was the most beautiful cardinal I have ever seen.